6 Thought Leadership Strategy Tips To Fuel Your Startup’s Growth [With Examples]
If you’re a startup marketer, you probably hear the word “thought leadership strategy” every day.
But is it just another buzzword coined by SaaS marketers, or does it mean something? And more importantly, should you even worry about building a thought leadership strategy?
In this article, I’m going to lay out what thought leadership actually is and how to build a thought leadership strategy, while revealing some of the best thought leadership examples you can learn from.
What Is Thought Leadership?
A quick Google search would show you dozens of different definitions of thought leadership.
But let me give you a simple one from a B2B SaaS marketing perspective.
Thought leadership is a marketing tactic to establish yourself (or your company’s founder) as a proven expert in your industry with original ideas, unique perspectives, and a solid command over your audience’s biggest questions.
In short, a thought leader is a niche authority figure people look up to for advice and direction.
Why is it essential for your startup’s growth?
Because when people see you as a thought leader, your product automatically becomes valuable and worth using.
Steve Jobs is probably the most prominent example of a thought leader in the tech industry who revolutionized the smartphone industry.
But you don’t have to become Steve Jobs to be a thought leader.
Thought Leadership Examples
There are numerous examples of thought leadership within specific niches.
For example, Neil Patel is a thought leader in the digital marketing space and used his influence to establish and run SaaS companies such as CrazyEgg, KissMetrcis, and Ubersuggest.
Brian Dean started as a regular blogger but became an SEO thought leader because of his unique strategies and ideas, such as the Skyscraper Technique.
Groove’s CEO, Alex Turnbull, is an excellent example of someone who established himself as a thought leader purely because of his insightful content. His influence played a significant role in making Groove one of the top customer service applications.
Nathan Barry is another excellent example. He was a successful blogger and influencer in the internet marketing niche. He used his influence to launch ConvertKit, which is now among the most popular email marketing tools for content creators.
All of these thought leaders have one thing in common – they’ve used their influence to grow successful online businesses.
Want to replicate their success? Let’s discuss some of the ways you can become a thought leader.
6 Tips To Building A Thought Leadership Strategy
You don’t become a thought leader overnight. But using an intentional thought leadership strategy, you can grow your influence to directly benefit your SaaS company.
Ready to learn how to build a thought leadership strategy? Here are some of the steps to becoming a thought leader.
1. Understand Your Audience
To become a thought leader, you must answer your target audience’s biggest questions more comprehensively than your competitors.
You might already have done some audience research while creating your SaaS product. If so, use it as the starting point of your content research.
Find the current influencers and thought leaders in your niche and see what they’re talking about. Because established experts and influencers don’t create content without research and if most of them consistently talk about a specific topic, you should take the hint.
For example, if you have a UX-related SaaS, start with a Google search on UX thought leaders and explore their content.
Similarly, check forums like Quora and LinkedIn Groups to see what your audience is talking about.
Doing so will help you find the questions you should target in your content and help you establish yourself as an expert by solving your audience’s problems.
2. Build Your Personal Brand Assets
Ultimately, it’s your content that’ll establish you as an expert. But a consistent and impactful brand image goes a long way in positioning you as a thought leader.
Start with a professionally designed website that has your images everywhere. Then use social proof tactics such as testimonials and customer logos to make an immediate impact on your audience.
Thought leadership example: Dan Lok, a niche authority in personal finance and entrepreneurship, has done a fabulous job with his website.
Then take the same branding elements to your social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A consistent brand theme immediately positions separates you from amateurs and pretenders and positions you as a credible professional worth following.
3. Consistently Engage With Your Audience On Social Media
Your social media engagements play a significant role in establishing you as a thought leader.
The core purpose behind all your social media posts should be value sharing. Because sharing tips and lessons automatically positions you as an expert and your readers as students.
Thought leadership example: Will Canon, the founder of UpLead, consistently publishes a weekly Twitter thread full of insights for his target audience. His consistency has gradually helped him grow his influence to the point where every thread he publishes gets hundreds of likes, comments, and retweets.
Similarly, use your social reach to regularly share your wins to show your audience that your strategies work.
Thought leadership example: Paul Yacoubian, the founder of copy.ai, has become a leader in the AI Content industry because of his active Twitter engagements, and of course, a great product.
In short, your social media messaging should be all about sharing lessons, tips, and proof of your success through tangible results.
If you do this consistently, you’ll build a loyal following eager to learn from you.
4. Get Interviewed In Podcasts And Guest Posts
We’ve talked about using social proof like testimonials and brand logos on your site. But there’s another social proof type that’s crucial to building your authority online.
I’m talking about getting your content published on established and high-authority sites that are popular among your target audience.
In marketing terms, we call it guest blogging and guest podcasting.
As a guest blogger, you’ll create high-quality content and offer it for free to the top sites in your niche. This helps you reach a bigger audience and increase your credibility by associating your name with a credible publication.
Guest podcasting is a slightly newer strategy, but it’s incredibly effective for brand building and traffic generation because podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular content format worldwide.
According to research, there are more than 2 million active podcasts, and a whopping 82.4% of podcast listeners spend more than seven hours listening to their favorite podcasts every week.
Every podcast host wants to have knowledgeable guests to produce highly content for their audience. If you can pitch yourself as a guest to relevant podcasts popular among your niche, you can quickly make a name for yourself.
Besides writing guest posts and appearing on podcasts yourself, you can also connect with other content creators, journalists, and guest bloggers to land brand mentions and shoutouts in third-party content.
This is even more beneficial because it acts as a neutral recommendation for your brand and gives you more credibility.
Both guest blogging and guest podcasting are time-consuming strategies. But they deliver long-term results that keep paying off for years.
5. Publish High-Quality Content On Your Niche Topics
Ultimately, the most significant factor, that contributes to building your image as a thought leader, is your content quality.
Guest posts, podcasts, and digital PR will drive traffic to your site, but it’s your content that’ll turn it into subscribers, fans, and customers.
This is why you need to build a comprehensive content marketing strategy that answers your audience’s questions and dominates the search results for your target keywords.
We’ve already written in detail about content creation, so if you want to learn more about building a content strategy, finding new content ideas, and enhancing your online reputation, head over to these links.
6. Strategically Use Digital PR To Grow Influence
The methods we’ve discussed so far are enough to help you establish yourself as a thought leader.
But it can take time (a long time).
So, to get results faster, you should proactively invest in a digital PR strategy to grow your influence and get in front of the right people who can provide you with incredible exposure and authority.
Who are those people? The relevant journalists, publications, influencers, and content creators in your niche.
Imagine the impact on your brand value when a journalist from Fortune, Businessweek, or The New Your Times, features your quotes in an article or mentions you as an expert.
To achieve this goal, a digital PR strategy advocates creating newsworthy content that’s aligned with the interests of your target journalists and publications.
This content could be in the form of SEO-optimized blog posts, research studies, surveys, or a unique take on a trending topic.
Use engaging and SEO-optimized press releases to spread the word about your content. Secondly, reach out to the relevant journalists and publications showing them how your content can make their story more credible.
That’s all a journalist cares about.
The good news? Journalists and content creators are always looking for credible sources to cite in their stories. Use platforms like HARO and HelpAB2BWriter to find such opportunities.
Twitter is another place where you can find numerous journalists looking for contributions. For example, here are some of the Tweets I found while searching for the hashtag #journorequest.
Also try other related hashtags like #PRrequest, #Journalist, #Contribute to find such opportunities.
Finding the right journalists and building a relationship with them takes time. But it can pay off exponentially by helping you reach millions of relevant readers and establishing you as an authority.
Since we’ve been in the digital PR industry for over a decade, we have solid connections with some of the most influential publications, content creators, and journalists who can help establish you as a thought leader.
Stay Consistent To Become A Thought Leader
Thought leadership strategy requires time to take effect. So don’t get discouraged if your early marketing and brand-building efforts seem ineffective.
Stick to your plan and be consistent. Because ultimately, your consistency will pay off.
If you want to learn more about building a thought leadership strategy, schedule a free consultation call with one of our experts.